Wednesday, 28 January 2015

January's Take Five

  Thrifty Penny Savers  

We all know how expensive Christmas can be, but that doesn't mean your cooking has to suffer! Here are a few super scrimping recipes, that are cheap to make but still full flavoured and delish...

1. Spiced Red Bean Koftas

                                                               ● Photo David Merewether ●

Prep Time: 20 mins  Cooking Time: 10 mins  Serves: 3-4

You will need:

● 400g can red kidney beans (well drained) ● 1 tsp garam masala ● 1/2 tsp ground coriander ● 1/4 tsp ground cumin● 2 tbsp sunflower oil ● 1 small onion, finely chopped ● 1 clove garlic, finely chopped ● 1/2 - 1 green chilli, deseeded & chopped ● salt & freshly ground black pepper 
  • Method:

    1. Place the beans in a bowl with the garam masala, coriander and cumin.
    2. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and cook the onion, garlic and chilli for 3 minutes until the onion is softened. Add to the beans with plenty of seasoning and mash the ingredients together thoroughly. Shape the mixture into 16 small balls and thread them on to small wooden skewers, 2 per skewer. Chill until needed.
    3. To cook the koftas, place the skewers on the hot grill and cook for 6-8 minutes, turning regularly, until browned. Serve straight away.
    Busy mum's lifesaver: Soak wooden skewers in cold water for at least 30 minutes before use to prevent them burning. Be warned, if you use metal skewers the koftas will fall off as they cook – I'm talking from experience here.

2. Butternut Squash and Pearl Barley Risotto

                                          ● Recipe Nick Gurr ● Photo David Merewether 
Serves: 4-6

You will need: 
  • ● 250g bacon smoked ● 350g butternut squash diced ● 2 medium onions finely diced ● 300g pearl barley ● 1 litre vegetable stock ● garlic cloves, finely chopped ● chopped parsley ● a few gratings of nutmeg ● salt and pepper ● 20g butter ● 2 dessertspoon rapeseed oil or olive oil ● 50g Parmesan, or hard goat's cheese, grated, plus extra to serve 


  1. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onions and sweat gently, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until soft.
  2. Add the garlic, bacon and squash and stir for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the pearl barley to the pan and stir. Make sure all the barley grains are well coated with butter and oil.
  4. Add the stock and stir occasionally. It should take about 35 minutes for the pearl barley to cook to a tender texture with a hint of bite still in the grains. By this time the squash should be completely tender too.
  5. Stir in the chopped parsley and grated cheese. Add salt, plenty of black pepper and a few gratings of nutmeg.
  6. Top with more grated cheese and serve.

3. Serendipity Soup

                                          ●Photo/recipe Jo Arnell●
 ● Serves 4 

After a Sunday roast, this is the perfect way to use up the left over chicken. Just use how ever much you have to hand
You will need:

For the stock:
  • ● 1 chicken carcass, meat stripped off and put in the fridge ● a selection of stock-making vegetables cut into chunks - onion, carrot, leek, celery ● seasoning to taste - bay leaves and bouquet garni if you have them ● 1.5 litres water 


Put all the ingredients into a large pan with a lid. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for around an hour. If you're freezing it to use at a later date, then do reduce the stock (by boiling it down without the lid on).

For the soup:
  • ● leftover chicken pieces, shredded ● a potato ● 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped - or 1 onion ● assorted vegetables - your choice. ● I sometimes find a tin of tomatoes and some haricot beans useful here if I'm short on time or vegetables ● 50g butter / 2 tblsp oil ● seasoning - extra stock / bouillon powder / pepper / spices / garlic 


  1. Chop all the vegetables up into chunks - I dice them up small, but if you like it chunkier, then do larger dice.
  2. Soften the leeks/onion in butter or oil in a heavy based pan, then add the diced vegetables and sweat them gently for around 20 minutes. This slow sweating will help draw out the flavour of the vegetables.
  3. Add the stock and chicken, bring to the boil and simmer gently for another 20 minutes.
  4. Check the flavour and season accordingly. Serve with crusty bread (house rule: the more feeble the soup, the nicer the bread should be).

4. Spinach, Potato and Turmeric Frittata

                                                                 ● Recipe Caroline Cowan  Photo David Merewether 

Serves 6

You will need:

● 3 medium sized potatoes  small bag of spinach ● 1 tsp turmeric ● 2 tbsp olive oil ● 25g butter ● 6 eggs ● 200ml double cream ● salt & pepper 


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. Peel and chop potatoes into bite size pieces. Add olive oil and butter to an ovenproof pan.

3. Place potatoes in pan and gently cook in the oven until tender, adding the turmeric. Put spinach into a new pan with tbsp of water and wilt down on the hob. 

4. Whisk the eggs with the cream and add the spinach, season.

5. Pour over the potato in the pan. Once the frittata is beginning to set, put it into the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes, until firm to touch.

For the slow-roasted tomatoes on the side:
12 plum tomatoes ● a little sugar ● salt & pepper 


1. Halve tomatoes, place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper.

2. Turn your oven on to its lowest setting, about 100°C, roast for about 3-4 hours until they shrivel up nicely.

5. Cabbages for Kings

                                                                ● Recipe Jo Arnell ● Photo David Merewether ●

● Serves 4-6 

You will need:

  • ● 6 large outer leaves of a Savoy cabbage plus the rest of the cabbage ● 2 eggs ● 250g breadcrumbs ● 1 pack (6 slices) bacon, preferably thick, cut into strips ● 100g grated Parmesan cheese (save a little to sprinkle on the finished dish) ● 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced ● 2 tbsp oil ● 100g butter ● 2-3 sprigs of rosemary 


1. Pre-heat the oven to a medium heat: gas 6, 180C

2. Peel off the outer leaves of the cabbage (I cut out some of the tough rib at the bottom of the leaf), then core and shred the rest of the cabbage.

3. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch the big leaves (put them in the boiling water for a minute or two and then rinse in cold water - i.e. don't cook them).

4. Fry the bacon in the oil until it's crisp, add the garlic and the drained, shredded cabbage and cook until the cabbage is tender (approx. 5 mins or so).

5. Remove from the heat and, in another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and egg. Then add the bacon cabbage mixture and combine well.

6. Stuff the large leaves with this mixture - lay the leaves out (inside up) and place a spoonful of the mixture in the centre of each leaf, then roll up, tucking in the sides (like a wrap) and lay them in a buttered baking dish with the seam downwards. Cover and bake in the oven for 25 mins.

7. Melt the butter in a small pan and cook for a little while until the butter browns a little, then add the rosemary, remove the cabbage parcels from the oven and pour over the rosemary butter, sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Monday, 26 January 2015

WIN 4 tickets to home gurr’own’s unique pop-up restaurant, celebrating local produce, on 18 April

  The February Competition...  

For one night only, on Saturday 18 April, local caterer and event planner Home Gurr’own are teaming up with Friday Street Farm and Holmstead Events to organise a unique evening for foodies and those who love to try something new in the Weald. Experience a locally sourced, four-course meal accompanied by seasonal cocktails and wine. With the emphasis on local food that’s beautifully presented, the evening’s menu has been specially created by Nicci Gurr of Home Gurr’own caterers, who have a reputation for using local, seasonal ingredients, many of which are grown or hand reared on their Cranbrook smallholding or sourced from some of the Weald’s finest producers. Imagine rosemary roasted lamb with Argentuil sauce, or smooth chicken liver paté with Seville chutney, served picnic style.

This wonderful social evening is to be held on a picturesque Kentish farm, Friday Street Farm in East Sutton, within beautiful tipis supplied by Holmsted Events.This unique experience will provide you with a distinctive atmosphere in which to enjoy a shared table experience with other guests. The evening will run from 7-11pm and tickets cost £70 per person. For more information, and to reserve your seat, visit or call 07747 816541.

For your chance to win 4 tickets to Home Gurr’own’s pop-up restaurant on 18 April in East Sutton, valued at £280, just answer this question: ‘Where is Home Gurr’own smallholding based?’ Enter your answer with your contact details in the online form at, comment on this blog post with your answer or
post to: The Home Gurr’own Competition, Wealden Times, 21 Stone Street, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 3HF by 13 February 2015. 

Good luck!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

January's Interior Inspiration...

  5 top organising tips to refresh any home  

After the numerous parties, get togethers and gatherings of Christmas and New Year, it can leave our homes looking tired, in need of a little love, and dare I say it, untidy?! So here are a few hints to getting your abode back in tip top shape for the coming year.

1. Kitchen


Use every tiny little bit of space. By keeping surfaces clear, it will give the impression of an ever tidy kitchen. The inside of cupboard doors is often wasted space, so by popping up a couple of small shelving units, smaller items can be stored easily. Even if your kitchen is small or an odd shape, shelves and hooks are so simple to use which means you have more space to prepare food!

2. Your Bedroom

Neat and tidy doesn't have to mean dull; hat boxes, trunks, suitcases are all great alternatives to using plastic storage containers to keep your bits and bobs tucked away and tidy, but still looking nice! You could buy them from an auction, junk shop or antiques fair and keep them looking rustic and battered. Or maybe give them a lick of paint, a bit of decoupage or a reupholster!

3. Living Room

If you're a book lover like WF's James, then why not make a feature of them? Invisible book shelves are a more interesting way of displaying your prized possessions, leaves you with more floor space and they're still easily accessible next time you want to snuggle up with a page turner, or a copy of Wealden Times! Under seat storage is particularly useful for larger, bulky items that aren't used all year round, like jumpers, quilts and spare linen. 

4. The Kids' Bedroom

Bunk beds are the perfect option if you have more than one child to a room. They're good fun and leave more floor space to play on. Having a higher bed with drawer space underneath is also a a great choice, especially if room for other pieces of furniture is limited. 

5. Bathroom

The space under the sink is often wasted, but can be used for storing cleaning products, or lotions and potions, which keeps window sills clear,  making it easier to clean! Small sets of drawers are incredibly useful for keeping small items in as well, such as hair grips, combs and make up. By rolling up towels, they can be squeezed into smaller spaces, and still grabbed easily when needed. 

 Photos David Merewether - Styling Lucy Fleming

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

January's Great Outdoors

  New Seasons  

A new year, a new season, a fresh start. Here are a few tips to get you going in the garden...

1. Recycle your Christmas Tree

Rather than taking it to the dump, use all those nutrients for your own soil! By having your old Christmas Tree shredded and chipped, you can use it for mulch in your garden. Contact you local council for some more information.  Just make sure you wait for all the frost and snow to disappear first! Also, be careful when using rock salt to clear your pathways, as it can scorch and damage exposed roots and leaves.

2. Get digging

Start to dig and turn over empty beds and borders for the new season. This freshens up the earth, incorporates new organic matter which adds nutritional value to the soil and exposes any pests so the birds can get at them! It's also an opportunity to get rid of some of the weeds that have crept in and survived the frost.

3. Prune and Trim

January is a great time to prune back fruit trees, ready for a new year. It is also worth taking a walk round the garden to double check any potential damage done by winter wind and frost. Remove any mold early to prevent it from spreading.

4. Get things growing

Now is the time to start off your seedlings inside on a sunny windowsill or in the greenhouse. Good ones to start in January are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, and herbs like coriander, sage, chives and parsley.

5. Feed and Defrost

Keep bird feeders topped up and defrost the bird bath. Thrushes and blackbirds actually prefer to eat off the ground, so pop some nibbles in a clear, open space for them. If you have a frozen pond, make a hole in the ice by heating up a pan of water and holding it closely and carefully over one area, so it slowly melts away. Smashing the ice could cause damage to water plants or fish. 

Friday, 9 January 2015


To celebrate the launch of the stunning new Oval Rose Candle, exhibitor Candle De Fleur is excited to offer to Wealden Times Surrey readers the opportunity to win a specially chosen selection of candles which have been hand finished in the stunning Antique colour, part of their luxury designer candle collection. Candle De Fleur was created from a spiritual journey in life, driven by a passion to bring something unique and special to the marketplace, enjoying sole exclusivity to the UK. Each Candle De Fleur holds a special secret, simply burning straight through the center to create a soft glow. But most importantly, they do not drip unsightly wax on the outside of the candle therefore preserving the beautiful hand-finished rose sculpture. Founder Deborah Elise says, “Most of our customers will say they are just too beautiful to burn and actually choose not to!”
A Candle De Fleur luxury candle is the perfect gift for any occasion whether it be a birthday, anniversary, the birth of a baby, for Valentine’s or Mothers’ Day and so many more. The candles also bring the ‘WOW’ factor to a table centre at a special event, ceremony, wedding, summer ball or any other excuse to party. To find out more about Candle De Fleur, and to buy online, visit or or call 01923 839000.

For your chance to win our special collection just in time for Valentine’s and Mothers’ Day to the value of £200 from Candle De Fleur, just answer this question: ‘What is the Candle De Fleur secret?’ Post your answer to: The Candle De Fleur Competition, Wealden Times, 21 Stone Street, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 3HF, use the competition link below or email it to by 23 January 2015. *Prize must be chosen before 31 March 2015. There is no cash alternative. All entrants’ details will be passed on to Candle De Fleur and Wealden Times Events. Please let us know if you do not wish your details to be passed on.

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

January's Wealden Wellbeing

  Five simple ways to kick start a healthy New Year  

We all love the festive season, but getting back into a normal, healthy routine can be difficult, so here are a few tips to help you on your way...

1. Get Juicy

After the heavy indulgences of Christmas and New Year, load up on veg to beat the bloating and up your high quality nutritional intake.  The Juice Executive make the most delicious vegetable juices and almond and cashew milk. They're gently sweetened with ginger, pear, apple or lime, and are an easy, delicious way of increasing you vegetable consumption. They have been tried and tested by WT's Helen and Lucy, and have been given a huge thumbs up from us! Just ensure that the juices are consumed in conjunction with a balanced diet and make sure you're still enjoying whole vegetables as well. Fibre is a vital part of our digestion! Get your juice here.

2. Take a Stroll

Fresh air and gentle exercise is the perfect way to stay active, feel better and clear a hectic mind. Pop on a pair of boots, wrap up in a woolly scarf and set off at a good pace. Get some blood pumping to restore oxygen supplies and wake up any dormant muscles! Not everyone has time to get to a gym, but dedicating even half an hour a day to a brisk walk can make a whole lot of difference to state of mind and overall fitness. 

3. Catch Some Zzzs

Christmas and New year are always hectic. Meeting up with old school friends, office parties, late night gift wrapping sessions all eventually take their toll on your body and mind, whether you're aware of it or not! So set a New Years resolution to get plenty of rest. This is a vital part of overall well being, but is often forgotten about. If you find it tricky to settle, drop some lavender oil on your pillow and keep away from televisions, laptops and phones for half an hour before bed time, so your mind is prepared for a good nights kip.

4. Clear your mind

Meditation doesn't have to mean hours of sitting in an uncomfortable cross legged position. 15 minutes a day, for a couple of months is all it takes to feel the all encompassing health benefits of meditating.  Some of the best results can be feeling more alert, brighter, more relaxed and better state of mind. There are many meditation guiding tracks to be downloaded, but WT's Helen recommends The Isha Kriya. Find it here!

5. Keep hydrated

Water is key! A combination of car heaters and cold weather is enough to make skin dry, sore and uncomfortable. Drinking plenty of water and using a good daily moisturiser will help keep this under control. WT's Lucy recommends the Million Dollar Moisturiser from Lush. A little goes a long way!

Friday, 2 January 2015

WIN An Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop Package Worth £250 Compliments Of Lilypie Cafe

Lilypie Café is an Annie Sloan Paint Stockist and Vintage Café in Chart Sutton, near Maidstone. Join the upcycling revolution by taking part in one of their Annie Sloan Workshops – an ideal opportunity to get creative and learn new skills. Four di erent workshops are on o er, either full or half days, hosted by trained Annie Sloan experts and including all materials required, plus a delicious lunch in the quirky café. You can also buy readymade upcycled, antiques and French-style furniture in the fabulous furniture showroom upstairs. From rich reds to soft greys, there’s a piece to suit every palette, along with a selection of Annie Sloan fabrics. Set within a beautiful Georgian house, Lilypie is bursting with style, and it’s not only furniture and paints that are on o er, you can also
browse a vast collection of pre-loved clothing and accessories. Make a day of your visit by booking a treatment at e Annexe hair, nail and beauty salon where the therapists use the latest products and
techniques to leave you looking and feeling a million dollars. Serving a wide selection of homemade sandwiches, salads and soups as well as daily specials board, Lilypie Café is well renowned for their divine Vintage Teas (booking essential) with beautifully presented cake stands brimming with finger sandwiches, scones, homemade cakes and clotted cream! Fizz is optional as they are fully licensed. 
Find out more at or call 01622 844590.

For your chance to win 1 Full Day ‘Paint A Chair’ Workshop (including all materials plus chair), 1 Annie Sloan Starter Pack (1 paint, 1 clear wax, 1 tester, 1 small bristle brush) and 5 tins of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, valued at £250, from Lilypie Café in Chart Sutton, just answer this question:
‘What architectural style of house is Lilypie Café set within?’ Enter your answer with your contact details in the online form at www.wealdentimes., post to: Lilypie Café Competition, Wealden Times, 21 Stone Street, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 3HF by 16 January 2015, or comment on this blog post and use the link below!